25 Advent Activities for Children

I didn’t bother with an Advent calendar last year as Advent isn’t something I grew up with and I didn’t think Talitha would get much out of it at eighteen months. This year at two-and-a-half, though – oh my, it’s guaranteed to be great fun.

I considered getting her the usual chocolate calendar but decided against it for a few reasons: 1. We’re going to lots of Christmas things – there’ll be ample opportunity for her to get a fix there, 2. It’ll be more fun to focus on doing and giving than on simply getting, 3. She’s at an age now where we need some activities, otherwise the days feel too long, and 4. There’s enough telling her that this is just a winter festival, when for us, Christmas is much more. And Advent is much more. We expectantly wait to celebrate Jesus’ first coming and we long for the time when He will come again.

So, I’m making an Advent calendar but it’s not done yet so the making will come in another post [Edit: It’s done!]. Based on the above thoughts, I’ve decided to fill it with little packages of dried fruit (that’s as exciting as chocolate to Talitha at this stage), a printed Bible reference (we’ll read it from Scripture and follow it with its counterpart in her children’s Bible) and an inexpensive activity for each day. Here’s what we have planned:

Day 1: Put up the Christmas tree and the Nativity set
Normally, I’d leave the tree until much, much later but it really sets the scene for the season, as does the Nativity set (we called it a “crΓ¨che” growing up), so I’m taking advantage of the fact that December 1st is a Sunday this year, which means we’ll have Laurence around to drive. We’ll probably just do the lights and a few decorations as most of our decorations are a bit rubbish and we’ll be making a few anyway.

Day 2: Open a bedtime treat
Talitha is at the childminder’s from early until late that day so we need something that doesn’t require much time or effort. She will be unwrapping a copy of Mog’s Christmas by Judith Kerr.

Day 3: Make a Christmas display for the window
I’d really love to go all out and light up the house but Laurence isn’t keen (he thinks it’s tacky) and we’re really watching the pennies this year so I’m contenting myself with a display in the window. We’ll probably be making it with construction paper with a lantern or some lights behind it to illuminate. Laurence suggested a Nativity scene but I’m thinking angels and stars might be less complicated and more obvious to passers-by. We’ll see.

Day 4: Make a paper chain for the diningroom
We go to our breastfeeding group in the middle of the day on a Wednesday, which often wipes us both out, so this is a nice quiet activity to slow down to when we get home again.

Day 5: Bake Christmas cake
It’ll be about a month since we soaked the fruits for our Trinidad black cake so it’s the perfect time to mix in the other ingredients and get it in the oven.

Day 6: Go to a Christmas market
I can’t believe we’ve lived in Bristol this long and still not made it over to Bath Christmas market! Still, I’m not getting my hopes up. Any Christmas market will do. Talitha’s not too picky, I’m sure.

25 Advent Activities for children

Day 7: Make Christmas cards
I have a huge stock of Christmas cards bought here and there over the years, which we’ll be giving to friends but I’d like us to do some extra special ones for family with a Talitha touch. Perhaps with a bit of printing.

Day 8: Wrap presents and write cards
Last minute shopping always leaves us stressed and overdrawn and I refuse to do it with a small child in tow, so I’ve been sorting presents early this year and apart from anything else, having this in her calendar will force me to have a deadline. She loves wrapping and “writing” cards though!

Day 9: Make white clay Christmas ornaments
These white clay ornaments from The Imagination Tree are too lovely not to try! I figure we’ll do little trees, stars and horses.

Day 10: Make a snow globe
We’re going to try making it from a jar. It’ll either go oh so wrong or be fabulous.

Day 11: Put up the Christmas card display
This is where it becomes a brilliant thing that I don’t throw anything away! Last year, we made a Christmas tree with the cards. I’m still mulling over what to do this year.

Day 12: Make a handprint tree decoration
I only wish I’d thought of starting this two years ago on Talitha’s first Christmas. I’m hoping we can make this a tradition we carry on each year. We’ll probably do something like this but spray paint the whole thing gold.

Day 13: Meet Father Christmas
I’m not sure where the “real” Santa is this year but a friend put it in my head to try Westonbirt Arboretum, which sounds like a great plan. He wears green too. That may not work out but, either way, we’ll be meeting him somewhere that day!

Day 14: Make mulled apple juice
I have no idea whether she’ll like this or not but we’ll give it a go since neither she nor I will be hitting the mulled wine this year.

Day 15: Go to a carol service
I’m singing with our church choir this year for a few carol services – two on this particular day, so I doubt we’d have time/energy for much else! Carol services are such a lovely marker of Advent, though. I love it all – the candles, the orchestra, the big hall filled with people singing really old songs… I think it’ll hold a lot of magic for her too.

Day 16: Make pastelles
These are savoury parcels of spiced meat enclosed in cornmeal. They’re traditional of a Trini Christmas and are usually wrapped in banana leaves. We do ours in foil. I’m not sure how exactly this will work with Talitha “helping”. It may be an all-day event!

Day 17: Make chac chacs for parang
We’ll be making chac chacs or maracas and playing along to some parang for a bit of Trini flavour in our Christmas plans. Talitha’s not too keen on parang music, truth be told, but she does love a good shake of a maraca!

Day 18: Bake gingerbread men
We’ll be doing these first thing in the morning so we can take them to our breastfeeding group later that day. I haven’t decided yet whether to make them wheat and dairy free. Laurence has to avoid both wheat and dairy but I may just make enough for the group and make him another batch. I’ve also not found a wheat and dairy free recipe I like so if anyone has suggestions, they’re welcome!

Day 19: Make festive play dough
If Talitha had a choice, we’d make play dough every day. Such is her passion for the stuff. I’m liking the orange and clove playdough recipe from Nurture Store.

25 Advent Activities for two-year-olds

Day 20: Watch the Snow Man
The Friday before Christmas, this is destined to be a busy day, so the Raymond Briggs classic on DVD
will be just the thing.

Day 21: Thread popcorn for the tree
This may sound weird but anyone remember Microsoft Bob? When we were children, my dad had this program on Microsoft Bob where you could transform the desktop into any kind of scene you wanted, make it into a banquet hall and decorate it for Christmas, even. Anyway, I remember one of the option being to string popcorn around it and I’ve been itching to try it ever since. I’ll either get a special needle for Talitha or we’ll figure something out. Might even let her have a go with a real one under close supervision. We’ll see.

Day 22: Give Christmas cards to local friends
Depending on what the weather is like, we’ll see how local is local!

Day 23: Make a Christmas wreath for the front door
If I’m really organised, we’ll have collected lots of natural materials for this. Otherwise we’ll be making one with handprints, like this.

Day 24: Open your Christmas Eve pyjamas!
An American family we knew when I was a teenager had this tradition of giving each other pyjamas for Christmas and I always thought it was such a lovely thing to do. It has a bit more context in a cold country than it did in Trinidad though! Useful too because we have a habit of never buying anything new until what we own is absolutely threadbare. I’m sure Talitha and I will have such fun choosing pyjamas for Laurence and I can’t wait to choose something really cute for her.

Day 25: Make Christmas shaped pancakes
My mother has always had a strong tradition of laying on an enormous Christmas breakfast. I look forward to doing something similar. I’m thinking wheat and dairy free pancakes in the shape of stars, with an elf or reindeer for Talitha. We’ll also have lots of fruit, some turkey bacon (we’re a pork free household too, alas) and a lovely syrup or jam from a Christmas market.

What do you have planned?

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  1. November 18, 2013 / 6:49 am

    Love this, we are also doing number 9 – as soon as I saw that I knew it was one to try and Westonbrit are apparently doing StickMan this year and you get to make your own stickman. Not checked the details yet, just had a friend tell us so we are thinking of doing that too! And will be thinking of you as we both put our trees up on the 1st:)
    Roz recently posted..thankfulness

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      November 18, 2013 / 12:24 pm

      What fun! Let me know when you’re going and maybe we can go the same day.

      • November 18, 2013 / 7:30 pm

        once bump arrives and we know where we are at we will let you know, as that would be lots of fun. No sitting around nesting with two on the go already for us.
        Roz recently posted..thankfulness

        • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
          November 18, 2013 / 8:25 pm

          I did start to wonder whether I’d missed the big news!

  2. November 18, 2013 / 1:20 pm

    This has made me all excited! Such a good idea to plan it all out like this, I have so many ideas in my head but end up feeling overwhelmed and not doing any of it! x

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      November 18, 2013 / 7:02 pm

      I think you put up your Christmas tree in November last year. Am I right? I remember thinking, “It is WAY too early!” Now I can see how easy it is to get excited when you have children!

  3. November 18, 2013 / 1:45 pm

    I love your list! We’re currently working on ours πŸ™‚ Bath markets are fabulous, we used to live in Bath and went numerous times a year. If you can though, go during the day, and on a weekday. They get SO crowded it’s impossible to enjoy with little people. πŸ™‚
    Luschka recently posted..Mamatography Week 41: Food And Domesticity

    • Adele Jarrett-Kerr
      November 18, 2013 / 7:03 pm

      Bath is such a lovely city! Yes, by putting it on Day 6, it’s on a Friday that Laurence has off from work so perfect for avoiding the crowd, hopefully.

  4. Steph
    November 19, 2013 / 11:15 pm

    Lovely ideas! I used to live in Bristol and can definitely recommend the Bath Christmas markets!
    I recently made gluten free gingerbread and if you used dairy free margarine, they would be dairy free too…
    Recipe here: http://www.stedmundsbaby.com/9/post/2013/11/gluten-free-gingerbread.html

    Love your blog. My little girl is just two but sounds similar to yours. Hope you both have a lovely time doing all these great things together. X

  5. November 21, 2013 / 8:18 pm

    Something that is fun is to set up the stable at the start of Advent. The figures of Mary and Joseph are placed in another room. Every day you move the figures a little closer until finally they arrived at the stable on Christmas Eve. Your daughter can hunt for them each day.
    Sharon recently posted..Advent A to Z: Prayerful & Playful Preparations

    • November 27, 2013 / 12:37 am

      That’s a lovely idea! Kind of like Elf on a Shelf but for the Nativity. πŸ™‚

  6. Pippa
    November 26, 2013 / 8:34 pm

    What a brilliant list! We’ve done an activity calendar for the last two years, but in a very disorganised random fashion (I cheat and put all the bits of paper in but only write the next day’s activity the day before so I know what will suit us all!). We’re already starting on the christmas cards – as now the 5yo is at school, there are so many kids to make cards for along with all his out-of-school friends that they take forever – but funnily enough our cards are a bit like your white clay reindeers but with angels and star shapes, tied through a card with ribbon – they look fab, but have lots of different making stages, which the kids seem to be enjoying! The writing is the bit that takes forever, so we’re trying to do that as we go along this time…! I love the sound of all your activities, so maybe I’ll sneak some of them in the day before this year!

    • November 27, 2013 / 12:38 am

      Truth be told, I’m prepared to switch cards around in my Advent calendar if need be! I can imagine your cards with your 5yo are really cool if your Story of Mum artworks are anything to go by!

  7. November 27, 2013 / 12:57 pm

    aww I remember making jar snow globes! so much fun! I’m not sure how much Wilf will be able to do in regards to crafting this year although we have done some painting that will be turned into gift tags πŸ™‚ some lovely ideas here! xx
    Fritha recently posted..Simple Carrot Soup

  8. Pingback: Christmas Countdown Activities {with Lots of Free Printables} | LivingMontessoriNow.com
  9. November 29, 2013 / 2:34 pm

    This sounds lovely Adele. I love the idea of making your cards into a Christmas tree – I might pinch that idea πŸ˜‰ Mulled cider is delicious – although a no-no – but I’m sure mulled apple juice will be just as nice. Have a lovely advent. Tempted to get the tree up on Sunday now too! x

  10. Aly
    November 30, 2013 / 10:14 pm

    I love that you have an event for each day.I’m cramming in as much as I can before the kids break up on the 20th.And just think next year you’ll have two kids to think of πŸ˜€
    Aly recently posted..Listography- Top 5 Christmas Songs

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